I always love seeing the plays at Augustana College for the acting skill, detailed and appropriate set designs, and beautifully constructed costumes and props. The musical Quilters - which finishes a two-week run this weekend - is no exception, with an ensemble of seven vocally talented women, live keyboard and fiddle players, and an elaborate display of at least 30 quilts hand-made by Augustana students and faculty.

New Ground Theatre's current show, David Schulner's An Infinite Ache, appears to be a conventional love and marriage story. A man and woman meet, fall in love, and get hitched - nothing unusual. But the script is so intricately crafted that we see snapshots of the couple as they progress through a partnership of more than five decades and take on sex, marriage, children, and death - in a mere hour and fifteen minutes. The fast-paced, natural dialogue travels seamlessly through the years, with no specific scene divisions. Time simply progresses.

When leaving Circa '21 last Friday night, I caught glimpses of conversations about Hello Dolly!. One audience member loved it, while another found the show bland and unmemorable. I silently agreed with the latter critic.

Theatre is evolving. While some scripts still relate the story of a unique person or community, it seems more writers are attempting to use representative characters to capture something more universal. These shows often consist of monologues that revolve around a central theme, such as girls' and women's lives in A ... My Name Is Alice and female sexuality in The Vagina Monologues. Sometimes, as in The Vagina Monologues, each component is the result of real-life research and interviews conducted and modified by the playwright.

In 1979, Patti Flaherty starred in Born Yesterday at Playcrafters Barn Theatre in Moline. Unfortunately, I hadn't yet made my earthly appearance and was unable to review it. But 35 years later, she's given me the chance by directing the current production of Yesterday on the same stage. The play is fast-paced if easily foretold, the characters are memorable, and the acting is superb.

They said it would be short, and they meant it. Clocking in at just under 45 minutes, last weekend's production of Augustana College's annual Short Play Festival was a collaboration of four student producers and featured Tony Kushner's script East Coast Ode to Howard Jarvis.

Hey you cats, listen up. I saw a show at Circa '21 that's hoppin' and swingin' - like being inside a jukebox. Smokey Joe's Café is where all the cool Daddy-O's and neighborhood gals are dancing to music from the days of the zoot suit up to 1960s love songs. If you're expecting a plot line, a bit of spoken dialogue, you kids won't get it. This musical revue is purely fun. It involves no setup or explanation, and simply celebrates music from days gone by.

Female problems. According to this musical by Nicole Hollander and Cheri Coons, we (as in women) have lots of them. Whether it's ridding our closets of shoes, trying new hairstyles every month, loving our insufficient-but-tolerable husbands, or fretting over the weight gain from (gasp!) a piece of German chocolate cake, we have lots of important issues on our minds that require a lifetime of worry, tummy-tucks, and doctor visits.

A night of reviewing a theatrical production doesn't usually leave me shuffling about the house in my pajamas, checking closets and under the bed for ghosts. But Susan Hill's thriller Woman in Black at Playcrafters Barn Theatre was just chilling enough to send me scurrying under the safety of my bedspread, eyes shut tight to whatever roamed my imagination.

With bright, rainbow wardrobes and electric intensity, the 12-person Opera @ Augustana ensemble of Godspell resembled a contemporary (and Christian) version of Hair. The vibrant student actors last weekend filled Wallenberg Hall at Augustana College with the spirit of music and tromped about the stage praising God and engaging hundreds of audience members with optimistic songs.

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